Fred Sasaki drives a Honda Fit. He shops at American Apparel for tights- sorry, unisex tights. He works for Poetry Foundation, and he loves emailing. I’m sure that if Fred Sasaki could send a sassy email to President Obama and not have the CIA looking into his history, he would probably send at least ten a day.
When Sasaki introduced himself at Coe College, he made sure that we understood that he is NOT a poet. “I am NOT a poet,” he tells us. “I work for Poetry Magazine and the Poetry Foundation, but I am NOT a poet. Some of my best friends are poets.” He nods to Nick Twemlow as he finishes the last line. The first thing he does as our presenter is put up a picture that he found from Google images of “email.” What is his advice as an art director and a curator? If you want to show someone something, make it as a big as possible. Hence, the huge clip art of “email” facing the audience.
The next piece of advice Sasaki gives the audience is always send a premature press release. You can send one for anything, like a graduation that’s coming up, or a baby you’ll have in the next few years. He showed us his premature press release for his book, which has not been picked up by a publisher yet. But hey, it’s better to be really prematurely early than have it be never, right Sasaki?
Sasaki’s book that he hopes to publish follows his quest for finding human interaction within the email world. He writes emails to infomercials like “My Pillow,” asking to be part of their “real life studio audience.” He first began this idea with the UNISEX (emphasizing, unisex) tights that mysteriously had a hole in the crotch one day. The cashier was not helpful, so he emailed American Apparel with complaints of the cashier not being model-y enough for the store, and so began his artwork of screwing with businesses. He eventually went on to accuse a bagel shop employee of sexually violating the bagels. How far was Sasaki willing to go? Apparently that far.
When asked how Saski knew that his email ventures were over, he explained that by the bedside of his dying father, he completed the final emails. Before his father died, he was asked to make his book more “literary,” and so he toiled with the idea of death and started a correspondence with Dignity Memorial, a funeral company. After his father’s unexpected death, he felt that “real life emailed him” for the first time, and he realized that the email project should end.
Sasaki’s presentation brought students to tears…from laughter. He knew how to make a crowd laugh, and he full discussed his writing process and even made fun of himself to show students that life after college really is not that terrifying. After ending his presentation, he made sure to include that he does not want to embarrass other people with his work. He started this project with the idea of getting over his fear of people judging him, and he continued it to stretch his personality further and to see how far he could go. Overall, Sasaki provided the students with a fun and inviting presentation on his work and left us with an impression that putting artwork out there really isn’t that scary even if you could get sued for a million different reasons.
by Olivia McElwain